I had a chance to gather with folks at the  Princeton Junior School in NJ for a great conference today.  I took the train down with Bob Dietzen, the City Neighbors Hamilton (CNH) Awesome 5th grade teacher, and was met at the train station by the CNH Fabulous 3rd grade teacher, Marilyn Mullen, along with Jessica DiLorenzo, past teacher of City Neighbors, and grand connector who brought us all to New Jersey for a conference about applying the Reggio Emilia approach to American Schools.

Reggio Emilia is an amazing system of preschools in Italy that were founded by the villagers after World War II.  They sold the tank left among the ruins of their town and decided to make a school that would teach children to be true to their humanity, a school that would prevent the next generation from ever choosing war.

Louise Cadwell of the Cadwell Collaborative spoke to us about Reggio Emilia.  She identified 6 essential components of Reggio Emilia that are inspirational to our work:

1.  Relevant work and projects with students.  (If you are in the city – study the city!)

2.  Redefining the teachers role  (Facilitator and reseracher and provocateur.)

3.  The practice of dialogue (“Dialogue is a conversation in the center without sides”).

4. The multiple languages of learning (How many ways can children express their knowledge?)

5.  The effects of the environment on learning (The classroom and school environment that allows us to do our best work)

6.  The learning community (Teachers looking closely and reflecting on the complex work of teaching)

We had a lot to learn today together!  Ashley Cadwell gave a great workshop on school environment and setting up the classroom.  He said lots of great points, one especially that I am bringing home on this train. “School can be like a home.  Home speaks of relationships that are comfortable, organic and evolving.”

Juliana McIntyre Fenn  (Author of Wisdom at Play) was there, the Founder of the Princeton Junior School 30 years ago. She told us she is 78 years old.  She told us to remember JOY in our work.

A great day!  The train is pulling into Baltimore.  Welcome Home.